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Business Observer Friday, Apr. 10, 2020 2 months ago

Medical supply firm aims to maintain payroll amid crisis

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The coronavirus pandemic has put a crimp in long-range planning at Mercedes Scientific.
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

Company: Mercedes Scientific 

Location: Lakewood Ranch 

Employees: 67

Revenue, 2019: $45 million

Executive: Alex Miller

Title: CEO 

Working situation: Working in the office 3-4 days a week. We are running half the staff working in the office and half the staff working from home and each group rotates week to week to reduce exposure. Every employee has been given masks, gloves and we have a temperature checking, hand sanitizing station at our entrance. (The company recently moved into a new office/facility in Lakewood Ranch.)

My WFH is really just my laptop and phone, and sitting at my kitchen island where I wait in anticipation for an occasional grunt from one of my teenagers foraging for provisions in between online classes.

Biggest  WFH challenge: None, working in the office is much more distracting.

Most important lesson you've learned in the shutdown: Just how fragile and vulnerable businesses of all sizes are. A business may have been considering expansion and growth opportunities one minute and the next they’re thinking about paring operations down to the basics and just surviving through the pandemic storm. I’ve learned to be grateful for the good times because the bad times can come at you fast and furious.


Books, articles, TV shows, podcasts and/or audiobooks have you’ve focused on: I’m a big Audible fan and listen to a novel a week. It keeps my formerly long commute more palatable. But with reduced traffic now I can get to work in 32 minutes flat, so that’s an upside to all this.

How far out into the future are you looking?  With so much uncertainty we can’t look further out than a week or two at a time. As a lab distributor that imports a lot of product from China in normal times we are doing our best to supply our customers around the country with the products they need. What they need now above all others are COVID-19 products, and as you’ve read it’s a very tough situation securing them. 

Just this week we are receiving in product that we ordered about six weeks ago. COVID-19 rapid antibody test kits, hand sanitizer, gloves and masks and it’s all pre-sold and will go out the door the same day they come in. Those will be good days, but with the overall temporary decline in laboratory testing (due to cancelled surgeries, and physician office closings, etc.) we will need them to offset the slow days.


How do you maintain your spirit/morale? How do you keep the team motivated? This is an unsettling time for employees and we try to quell their fears by telling them we will do everything possible to keep every one of their jobs. The PPP funds are paramount to small and mid-sized companies like ours for this reason. We also cater lunch a few times a month using a local catering firm because it’s so important for local businesses to help one another. And of course we’re always dog friendly so that helps!


Exercise or stress relief have you’ve turned to during the crisis: My husband and I have a small bedroom we converted to a gym. We have a Peloton, a treadmill and the workout Mirror. It’s all you need! We also walk the dogs. A lot.


Last trip to out of the house: We waited in line to enter Home Depot for planting soil. It was quite an adventure.

 

Click the links below to hear how more regional executives are handling the shutdowns.

 

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